Of course GMES is now more acknowledged and supported across Europe and beyond, in the America and Africa for instance, and by a wide range of entities from governments to users, going through industry, regions, local authorities and more. However it is a large program with specific needs in terms of governance, budgets, technological developments and partnerships which make it a very complex European flagship to drive. Moreover Europe barely comes out of solving the Galileo crisis, Galileo being a flagship essential for Europe which had to go through the difficult learning period of how to get the European Union, ESA and industry to work together on a very complex space programme. While the lessons learned must and will benefit GMES, it must be understood that GMES is fundamentally and in most aspects a very different programme, in terms of missions, thematics, technologies, users, organization and actors in general, even if we can find some common features and synergies with Galileo. GMES is definitely not an easier programme and it requires its own specific approach. Our remote sensing community as well as the overall geo-information industry have the experience and know-how to support the European Union and ESA to make this initiative a success. Through involvement in various advisory committees to provide for instance inputs on governance, programmatics and of course present and future European technical capabilities, the European industry could be considered and involved as partners by the decision makers to make GMES a wide ranging success.
In the next GMES conference which will be organized by the French Presidency of the European Union in September 2008 a new impulse will be given to GMES both with the demonstration of new operational services and with the giving of a new name for GMES: let’s hope that these will bring fresh additional momentum to help ensure the firm commitment to this initiative by the European member states and its wider acceptance and development.
In the mean time, on behalf of the EARSC Directors, let me wish you a good summer,
With best regards,